Gavin Shepherdson captures
the essence of the north
By Kate Mothes
Afternoon sunlight dashes across rooftops and through tree limbs, casting shadows onto adjacent houses; recycling bins await their regular collection and laundry dries on the line. In Gavin Shepherdson’s contemplative paintings, the details we often overlook or take for granted in their ultimate familiarity—the subtleties of the quotidian become the focus.
Based in Lanchester, Durham, one of England’s northernmost counties, Shepherdson trained as a designer and began painting in 2018, teaching himself how to use a range of materials, starting with a stack of used postcards. His experiments with layering pigment on top of preexisting messages, vestiges of which often showed through the added layers of paint, ignited an interest in the nuances of working on a small scale and the nature of residual memories.
Transience and the nature of passing time features strongly in these thoughtful works. “I seek out shadows to feature in my more recent work. I’m fascinated by how a view can transform completely in a few minutes with a cloud moving or a simple change in the light,” he explains. He snaps photos during walks and often takes the images as a starting point, but tries to refer to them as little as possible so that memory itself can influence the colors, mood, or placement of objects.
My paintings are usually smaller in scale and drawn from the landscapes and people around me. They capture a moment or a glance from my everyday life that would otherwise quickly be forgotten.
Employing primarily acrylic, pastels, pencils, and crayons, Shepherdson works on surfaces often associated with the trades or crafts, such as chipboard or airdry clay, eschewing the preciousness of canvas. The ubiquitousness of these inexpensive materials bolster the subject matter: a view down a local alley or the walking route to school, a row of colorful doorways, or a glimpse of the surrounding hills over the rooftops. Utterly ordinary scenes in one sense, they are granted a certain attention and imbued with a tenderness that invites the viewer to slow down and reflect. Specific to the artist’s walking routes around the village he lives in, they also suggest a universality in the way we experience the spaces and landscapes we pass through every day.
You can follow the artist’s work on Instagram.
Header image: Red Door, 2022. Acrylic and pastels on chipboard, 27 x 40.5 cm.
All images © Gavin Shepherdson and shared with permission.